North West Regional Road Race Championships 20/08/2018

By Jon Fowles

This Sunday was the North West Regional Road Race Championships, possibly the biggest race in the calendar for many, and certainly a target for Team Chronomaster. Adam, Ste and I were representing the team, and the start sheet reflected the significance of the race, with a handful of the region’s professional riders set to take part.

This year the race used the Calthwaite circuit, 80 miles of mostly fast flat roads with a short uphill drag to the finish line. During my last foray at this circuit I’d managed to get in an early break which was unfortunately caught on the last lap, and led to a messy finish of opportunistic attacks and a hectic sprint. I wasn’t keen on repeating this.

On the first lap the attacks began, as ever. I wanted to save my legs as much as possible, so I waited for the stronger riders to attack so I didn’t need to stick my own head in the wind. It’s a bit of a blur as to what actually happened, but it started with Hamish Graham (Green Jersey) and Richard Taylor attacking. I jumped in behind them and then as they tired I took a turn on the front. I (or we?) bridged across to a small group of early escapees just as Alex Luhrs (Brother NRG) came sailing past. I managed to get behind this, and keep the move going.

divs 1

As we approached the first left hand bend, the peloton had reeled us back in. I wasn’t content with this so I gave Alex a nod and attacked out of the corner. The two of us put in a big effort to pull away from the peloton, and we were joined by Hamish, Ryan Perry (Raleigh GAC) and two other riders. This was a good group, with enough firepower to edge the gap out to around 45 seconds, and we held this for 2 laps.

After the rise up to the start finish line, out of nowhere, we were joined by James Gullen (JLT Condor) and Dillon Byrne (VCUK). Now we really had all the strongest legs of the race in the breakaway, and pushed on at a decent pace. The gap to the peloton hovered below the minute mark, which isn’t a comfortable margin, and despite this some riders in the group kept missing turns.

divs 3

With 3 laps to go the breakaway came into a bit of a crisis, something had obviously spurred on the peloton, as the gap dropped below 30 seconds. We had to push on hard… really hard! It didn’t seem like we were making any progress with the gap staying below 40 seconds, despite hammering the pace. We stuck with it, and as we crossed the finish line to start the final lap, the elastic snapped and our gap grew to over a minute to the chasing peloton. From then we knew we’d escaped it and it was time to start attacking each other!

divs 2

It started with a few soft attacks when people weren’t willing to ride on the front, and then James went for it! Our breakaway split to pieces, with Dillon, Alex, Hamish and I forming a quartet trying to chase back to James. We hammered it as hard as we could, but despite this James kept pulling away. I was pretty toast, we all were by the looks of it, and there was nothing we could do. We carried on riding together (just about), until the final left hand bend before the final 500m drag to the finish.

I was on the front into the bend and had a mini attack to see if anyone would come past and so giving me a wheel to follow to the finish. Nobody bit, and I was still on the front. I was probably the worst sprinter from our quartet, so I didn’t intend to hang around. I gunned it from the 200m to go banner, and suddenly had a gap on Alex and Hamish, but as they wound up their sprint I was quickly passed. I hung on to finish in 4th place, with Alex in 2nd and Hamish finishing 3rd. James took a fine solo victory!

Thanks to Rock to Roll Cycles for organising the race and credit to Alex Reed for the great pictures. http://areed.co.uk/

Posted in Blogs

Team Chronomaster Road Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

Yes! It was finally time for Team Chronomaster inaugural Road Race!

This was our first venture into hosting a race, and Stephen Feeney took on the challenge with the support of the rest of the team, our sponsors, and many friends and family members. Too many to thank in a race report!

We chose the local favourite course of Bashall Eaves Long, and elected to run a Regional A race; categories 2-3-4, so that would be 5 laps of the 11 mile circuit. We had managed to put together a pretty impressive prize fund for the day and up for grabs were cash prizes, a set of Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres, and a brand new wrist watch!

Capture

Team Chronomaster had five riders in the race today; Adam Baines, Craig Battersby, Simon Deplitch, Warren Gell and myself. We are all punchy riders who like this kind of course. For me though, the last time I did Bashall long was several years ago and I had no recollection of it. So I spent most of the early morning getting various opinions on it, and talking to the team about tactics.

The conclusion was that it was a hilly/rolling course with short/long and shall/steep climbs, and some draggy bits, and lots and lots of potholes. There was a long shallow climb after the finish, a long shallow climb about half way round, and some downhill bits inbetween. It was also fact that the last two races here had finished as a reduced bunch sprint. Before the briefing we got together as a team and formulated a plan;

“Kris and Adam go with the breaks, Craig and Warren to cover the moves, and protect Si for the sprint finish”. Simple enough…

….and we’re off.

After the rider briefing we rolled out of HQ. The neutral section was pretty long today, and it was a great opportunity for the five of us to lead the bunch out. In a refreshing change of pace, the lead car led us out at a very relaxed speed, and not the 300-400 watt strung out line that some lead cars do. We got past the finish straight and the lead car sped off…flag down. The bunch were tightly compacted, with five TC riders spread across the front. I decided I’d give it a go, and attacked.

30 seconds in I heard a voice in my ear “get on my wheel Kris!” and Warren powered past in his familiar time trial position. Now we were a two up, and looking behind, no-one was chasing. Into the climb we went and soon the bunch were out of sight. As we neared the top, We were joined by three others – Matt Langridge, Steve Fidler, and Tom Hanlon – three very strong guys. This was a very good break to be in, and had it been a flatter course I’m sure we had what it took to stay away. But Bashall is anything but flat.

As fast as we become a group of 5, we were down to 4. Warren suddenly went into reverse. I later found out that he had broken a stem bolt, and was forced to retire after less than 1/2 lap. Bad luck Woz, and thank you for the tow! We set a pretty fast pace that was taking it’s toll on Tom, and he eventually lost contact. We were down to three as we rolled across the finishing line to begin lap two.

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We continued to press on, and eventually Steve also lost contact with us. But this didn’t matter too much, as soon we were reeled back in by the bunch. But we could see that the chase had done a lot of damage to the group, with around 25-30 riders left in the bunch. Now the hard work started…

I said earlier that it’s rare for a break to stay away on this course. More typically it’s a race of attrition, with more and more riders falling off the back either on the climbs, or from the several tight junctions that cause splits. Today was no different, and my tactic for the day changed to survival mode. Adam, Craig and Si were in the front group, and Craig took to the front; “Kris, get off the front – let me do the work”. I was happy to oblige and I recharged the batteries.

In a bid to prevent any counters, Craig pulled like a train on the front for a good lap and a half. I tactic that worked really well, as everyone else sat in. I spoke to Si and he felt good, happy to cover any moves that went if needed. His goal was to get to the last half mile and bid for the win. It was down to Adam and I to cover the moves, but Adam was starting to suffer. I told him to get up to the front, which he did, and he settled in behind Craig.

After Craig had burned his last match he rolled to the side and other riders took up the reins, and then the fun began. the group was still 25 strong…too big for some…and so the war of attrition began. With every climb, every corner, and every tricky descent there were bursts of acceleration. More and more riders lost contact, and this kept going deep into lap 4. By this point, Adam was one of those casualties and he had packed, and after a particularly fast lap, Si had emptied his tank also – despite him claiming that it was because he didn’t want to write the race report! (the honours usually go to whoever had the best result in the race…).

I was the only rider from TC left in the front group – now around 14 riders, as we crossed the line for the penultimate lap…

 

After the line, and round the left turn, the group of 14 realised that this was it. Everyone else was out of the race. This caused a brief moment of calm and the pace eased. Mistake. Two riders attacked up the hill, and the chase was on. From here to the line, it was now a case of chasing down the relentless counters. This took it’s tool on me and I was distanced from the group.

With the group 10 seconds up the road, the Commissaire drove into the gap, followed by the Medics, and the neutral service. I gave everything I had to stay in contention, managing to keep the gap to a minimum to the top of the climb. At the top I took a breather for a few seconds, and dug deep to sprint back past the vehicles and re-joined the back of the group. BIG relief.

 

Thankfully, the pace eased a bit. I can only assume everyone else was feeling like I was – at least I hope they were – and saving some energy for the last uphill half mile to the line.

The finish on Bashall Eaves long is pretty technical. A fast twisty descent down to a double lefthander over a narrow bridge, straight into a very steep, very short climb. At the top, the incline eases to a more gentle ramp all the way to the finish line.

I was ready for the sprint to start at the bridge and as I followed the line I gave it everything up the hill! But to my surprise the sprint didn’t start – I had to brake to stay with the bunch (looking back, I should have just gone for it there and then!). The group bunched up. From the front, the pace quickened, but the surge didn’t happen, and I followed the wheels moving up. Eventually bums here out of seats, and the sprint started. I was really surprised that I was passing riders left and right – the day must have been as tough for everyone else.

Up front I could see that Matt Langridge had a gap, and he celebrated a well deserved win. He’d been strong all day. I rolled in on fumes in 6th place, disappointed I could not do better in our first ever home race. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had I been able to do it again, I would have had a different strategy for the day.


Final Results

  1. Matt Langridge – Planet X – £150 Momo Wrist watch
  2. Jude Taylor – Team B38 – £80
  3. Alistair Thomas – Sportcity Velo – £60
  4. Joe Bowers – Buxton CC – £50
  5. Ben Trippier – Maxxis 4 Racing – £40
  6. Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster – £30
  7. Oliver Huszar – East Lancs RC
  8. Simon Bridge – Manchester BC
  9. Freddie Jagger – Cycleways
  10. Martin Woffindin – Secret Training
  11. tbc
  12. tbc
  13. tbc
  14. tbc
  15. tbc

Prize draw winner: Andrew Sedgewick – Rutland CC – Specialized Turbo Cotton Tyres


Normally I wrap things up with a quick thank you to the organisers of the race, but seeing as this was our race I think it would be good to dig a little deeper into just how many people give up their own time (and often money) to make grassroots racing possible.

The sponsors

Team Chronomaster are blessed with having some exceptionally supportive sponsors. Without their help we wouldn’t be the team we are, or get to use the top end equipment we use. Today was no exception.

  • Leisure Lakes Bikes took time out of their very valuable day to provide neutral service, looking resplendent in their liveried van. Thank you guys!
  • Specialized UK were very kind to donate a top end set of Turbo Cotton tyres, worth just under £120. These were put up for grabs in the free rider raffle.
  • Napthens, a local firm of Solicitors, were extremely generous and contributed £250 towards today’s prize fund, which was gratefully shared between the riders placing 2nd to 6th place.
  • And last but by no means least, Neil Wood – owner of Chronomaster Wristwatches, donated a Momo Designer watch worth £150 as the prize for the winner of today’s race. Huge thanks to our team manager, el honcho, the grande fromage!

The Marshalls & The Motorbike Outriders

A lot of people are needed on race day to make sure we are all protected from the dangers of the open road. Every junction, twist and turn needs to be manned by the army of volunteer accredited marshalls, and a bunch of friends and family members. On the worst of days this can be a truly miserable affair, but today the sun was shining which hopefully made for a good day. We want to thank everyone who helped today – some of whom had travelled a long way to be here.

Thanks to all of our friends and patrons from Bolton Lads & Girls Club; Stephen Pritchard, Tony Brierley, Mark Brocklehurst (and his whole family!), Mark Parsons and Julian Ferrier. Dan Isherwood (thanks for stepping in at the last minute!) Even the legend Cal Difalco made an appearance! Couldn’t have done it without you all!

The team from Mersey Medical Services did a great job covering the race today too. Thank you also to British Cycling Officials Dave Cockram, Alan Roper and Adam Newell for all of their support and advice.

The Support Staff

Where do we start? There are so many people who helped out this weekend…

  • Mark Brocklehurst and family for sorting out the finishing area.
  • John Myburgh (who arrived at 6am) for putting out all of the road signs, and organising the marshalling duties.
  • John Myburgh, John Bamford and Mr Deplitch (Si’s Father) for driving the lead cars.
  • Warren (after he packed), Adam (after he packed), Jenna Baines (heavily pregnant!), Diane Woodcock and the Brocklehursts for adjudicating the race.
  • And who can forget that outstanding spread of food at the finish line! All of the credit, plus our heartfelt thanks must go to the Deplitch clan. Jackie, Si’s Mother and Si’s Auntie, baked tirelessly all weekend to provide the after race delicacies. It was a real treat!

Ellen Isherwood

We want to say a special thanks to Ellen our resident photographer. Come rain or shine, Ellen is at every race in the North West, perfectly capturing the essence of our local racing scene. She does this out of her passion for cycling and photography, never has to be asked, and never asks for anything in return (other than a credit). Ellen, we’re blessed that you are there at our races, and we’re eternally grateful!!

The Organisers

And last but by no means least, a huge thumbs up to Stephen Feeney and his better half Karen for taking on the challenge of hosting this race. Months of preparation went into it, and even on the day you were both there at 5:30am making sure everything ran like clockwork. You did a fantastic job, and the race was a huge success!


From all of us at Team Chronomaster, thank you to everyone who made this race a success. This was our first stab at organising a road race, and we will definitely being doing it again. Maybe something bigger, but certainly better!

We welcome any feedback you might have to help us improve for next time. If you want to send us any comments, please send us a message on our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TeamChronomaster/

See you next time!

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

High On Bikes Clieves Hill Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

This season so far has been really up and down for me. Mostly down. As we are entering August, the chase for points is now on, and I have a lot of catching up to do. Kicking off the second half of my racing season was the Clieves Hill Road Race hosted by High On Bikes. This is one favourite races of the season, as it is always very well organised, supported and catered, and it’s a rolling course that suits me very well.

I got to HQ pretty early to get a decent warm up on the turbo, and with the weather being dry and bright, I made the most of it. There were plenty of distractions at HQ with riders signing on, the marshalls and outriders planning their strategy, Dan Whelan running over the Chief Commissaire*; the usual sunday morning sights.

* Tom Greep looked in quite a bad way after he was knocked over, and very luckily the medical team were right next to him when it happened. He received immediate care, and in true racing spirit, still managed to lead the race allowing it to happen. We are all really grateful for that! After the race, back at HQ, it looked like Tom may well have suffered a broken ankle. We all hope you recover well Tom, and hope to see you back in the racing scene soon.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

We rolled out of the HQ onto the course for 14 laps of the Clieves Hill circuit. The finish is on a short steep climb, but the rest of the course is fast and punchy. We were  stopped on the main road for another briefing (probably just an excuse to allow us veterans an opportunity to have a pee), and then we were off.

The first lap was uneventful, the group staying together. I used this as an opportunity to move up to bunch and settled into about 10th wheel, as I wanted to try and get in the break (there is always a break on this course, and it usually sticks). Into lap 2, and as we approached the shallow climb the pace quickened and we were strung out. A few riders, maybe 6, attacked and broke the elastic. At the top of the climb is a sharp left turn and is always a good place to get away, so I pressed on up the climb. Looking behind me I could see a couple of riders had come with me and that the bunch had eased off. I wanted to try and bridge to the breakaway before the descent, because the back part of the course was into a headwind. I just made contact as they turned left into the descent.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

The two riders that were with me had fallen back to the bunch, but I could see that others were making their bid to join the break. Soon it had swelled to around 12, and we were away.

With a group so big, it was always going to be hard to get everyone working. There were a few sandbaggers but most of the group were working hard to put some distance into the bunch. It didn’t take us long to get the gap up to around a minute, and for the rest of the race the gap bounced between 45 and 90 seconds. For the most part, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful. The group stayed away, but it was hard work trying to keep everyone working as a unit.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

There were two prime laps on lap 5 (for a £20 High on Bikes voucher) and lap 10 (for a free massage), and this was really the only bit of action we saw prior to the finale. The sandbaggers suddenly sprung into life as they bid for the prizes – they really must have wanted that massage! – before falling back to the back of the group. As the laps ticked by, so did the energy levels, and eventually more riders (including myself) started missing turns, trying to save energy to cover any late surges…and for the climb to the finish.

 

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Credit: Alex Reed

 

The Finale

Lap 11…Tom Knight and Louis Szymanski launched an attack as we crossed the line for lap 11. They built a decent lead quite quickly and kept a 10 second gap going into the descent. The group weren’t really working to pull them in, and so at the bottom of the hill into the headwind, I made a bid to join them. I seemed to be stuck in no-mans land – slowly closing the gap, but I could see the group were chasing me too. I didn’t want to burn too many matches incase a counter went, so I eased up and let the group pull Tom and Louis back in. At the top of the climb, we were all back together.

Lap13…Tom and Louis attacked again – same place, but this time with a lot more intent. By the time we got to the decent they were well out of sight. Again, the group were not working to catch them and this time, they were allowed to escape. We didn’t see them again until after the finish.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

After the bell, inevitably we started attacking each other, but nothing was allowed to stick. We rolled into the left turn up Clieves Hill to the finish line. By this point I had nothing left in the legs, and was quickly passed by most of the group. I rolled in 10th place. Brian Rigby was clearly stronger than the rest of us, and took the last podium spot with a clear gap.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

Not long after Si Dep rolled in at 18th place, and I learned about the day he and Craig had had, disrupting the bunch to allow me to get away, and allowing our group to build up a decisive lead. They chased down every attempt for a chase group to form, and for just two riders to do that all day, would have taken a lot of hard work! Craig had retired early, not surprising as he is nearing the end of his very successful season, and traditionally wraps things up in August. I’m really grateful for that support and I hope I can return the favour in another race! Cheers boys…

Results

  1. Tom Knight – VC Londres
  2. Louis Szymanski – ABC Centreville
  3. Brian Rigby VCUK VELOCHAMPION
  4. Tom Lowe
  5. Dan Whelan – Onimpex Bio Racer RT
  6. Jamie Fletcher – Ellan Vannin CC/Appleby
  7. Christopher Booth – Cadence Cycling Performance
  8. Declan Hudson – Clay Cross Road Team
  9. John Rigby – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  10. Kristian Zentek – Team Chronomaster
  11. Joseph Hanlon – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  12. Richard Taylor – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  13. Alexander Simmons – Pro Vision Race Team
  14. Darran Acton – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  15. Steven Fidler – Crewe Clarion Wheelers

Although my result was not great, this was a good race for me. I’ve been struggling for the first half of the season, and today marked a bit of a turning point. My form is improving, and I hope I can carry this into the rest of the season and get some decent results.

I’d like to finish off by thanking the team at High On Bikes for putting on yet another high quality and very successful race – the Clieves Hill Road Race is definitely a highlight, and you didn’t disappoint this year! I’d like to thank all of the marshalls and motorbike outriders for a superb job keeping us all safe on the road. I’d also like to thank the volunteer caterers back at HQ for an amazing spread when we got back!

Lastly, I’d like to thank you to local photographers Alex Reed, and friend of the team Ellen Isherwood (for choosing our race to try out her new camera). Your photo’s did a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the race, and everyone appreciates it for the memories it brings!

Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Emergency Services RR Championship

By Adam Baines

For those of you old enough to remember ‘Quincy’ and the opening line of “ladies and gentleman, welcome to the most fascinating world of Police work, FORENSIC MEDICINE!!” followed by a sequence of trainee (American) Police officers passing out as Quincy uncovers a corpse, well that was what first inspired me to become a Forensic Scientist. Of course Quincy has now been superseded by the glamourous likes of CSI: Miami and CSI: Vegas but Quincy is where it all began and it’s Quincy I have to thank for giving me a crack at a national jersey.

‘How?’ I hear you all cry; well as a Forensic Scientist I am employed by a Police Force which affords me the right to take part in the annual Emergency Services Road Race Championships. The race takes in competitors from each of the emergency services, Fire brigade, Police, Ambulance and the AA (jokes) (other roadside breakdown cover also available).

One great thing about these races is, if anything goes wrong, there are plenty of qualified people to look after you! If the bikes were colour coded according to your service, it would make for quite an interesting and logical race convoy too, red bikes, blue bikes, white bikes and yellow neutral service 😉 but unfortunately (for me), they were definitely not always in this order….

This year was being hosted by Thames Valley Police (TVP) and organised by Nick Clarke. Before I go into the race itself, a special thank you has to go out to Nick, who must have lost a few years of his life trying to get this race to go ahead. Road works springing up all over the place meant that not only the original course was cancelled but the 2nd and then the 3rd contingency courses were also cancelled. At one point it was to become a national crit championship! But through Nick’s tireless work we had confirmation, on the Friday before the Sunday event, that a 4th road circuit had been found and approved by TVP. Hooray!!! Race on!!

Me and my 2 Police colleagues Neil Higgins and Gavin Rose travelled down to Buckinghamshire the day before and had plenty of time for a nice ride out to the course and do a couple of recce laps. The course was to be 12 laps of a 4.1 mile circuit. For a short lap it was quite a good circuit. It had a long drag into a tough headwind which turned onto a steep kick up at the end to the start/finish line, followed by a fairly fast descent down to a sharp left hander back in to the headwind.

This was my first race since the middle of June, but since then I’ve had 8 days riding my bike in the Dolomites and 2 consecutive weekends riding ‘nice n steady’ with my Team Chronomaster pals. So my legs were feeling very good and I was quietly confident of a good result today. The weather was sunny and windy. Great. A good recipe for a split, all I had to do was make sure I was in it.

Desperate for the jersey I’d been doing my homework and picked out a few key riders to keep my eye on. This was more difficult than I anticipated because most of the competitors were from the south and I had no idea how good they were. So my list consisted of the riders from the North that I had heard of and previous podium finishers of this same race. My tactic was to save my powder for about half way through the race and then try and get away. If anything went earlier I would hope to bring a few strong lads with me and bridge the gap.

First lap, a lad went up the road on his own. Checked my list, ‘nah, he’ll come back’ and no one seemed too keen to chase him, understandable given the headwind and the 50 miles left to go, so I sat in. The first 4 laps went to plan, I sat and watched a few attempts go and come back. On lap 5 I saw the winner from 2 years ago, Pete Nichols, move up the outside and ride off the front. He rode the whole course solo when he won, so I had to get on the back of him! I attacked, got across and immediately started to do turns.

A little earlier in the race than I had planned but with a strong bloke like Pete involved I was willing to give it a go. We had about 10 seconds on the bunch but my co-escapee had blown after the steep rise to the finish. With the bunch switching on to the danger of letting us go, we were doomed.

In the following laps I had a few more attempts and got away in some promising moves but it seemed that not everyone was able to work at a rate that would keep us away.
In the frantic attempts to get away I’d lost count of the laps and, while in a convoy chasing another attempt at a break, I checked my Garmin.

42 miles on the clock, my race brain told me 2 laps to go and we’d just hit the headwind straight again. Just like Quincy, I was now getting frustrated with the lack of co-operation from the necessary authorities and it was time to do this on my own. A small group had just been brought back after a fast chase so I countered straight away. I was off the front into the headwind and gaining good ground. After half a lap the bunch were out of sight! A lap and a half to go to catch the front runner (or so I thought) or just hold on for second. I buried myself for another lap.

As the line was approaching I realised I wasn’t going to catch the winner, I was just happy with 2nd place. Then I could hear the bell ringing, ANOTHER LAP to go!! Foolishly I hadn’t taken in to account the mileage from race HQ. My heart sank but even Quincy made mistakes, so I didn’t give up and rode as hard as I could up the short climb. As I crested and looked back I saw a group of 6 bridging across to me.

Decision time. Do I go for broke and try and hold them off or sit up and wait for them. With my legs tiring and a strong headwind to face, I decided the best idea would be to wait for them and use them to recover for the sprint. They came through and the bunch were still another 30 seconds back. Brilliant, right move.

With 2 laps solo in my legs I had the perfect excuse to do fewer turns and my legs were coming back nicely. The sprint opened up and I managed to hold on for 3rd. Not the Jersey I wanted but a race I loved. I think Quincy would have been proud.

Congratulations to Graham Crow from London Fire Brigade for an epic 48 mile solo win. Thank you again to Nick the organiser, all the Commisaires, NEG riders and Marshals for making the race happen. And thanks to our sponsors Specialized UK, Leisure Lakes Bikes and Chronomaster watches for all their continued support.

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Worcester Trophy RR

By Jon Fowles

Due to unfortunate circumstances I haven’t “finished” a race in the last 5 weeks, a combination of race cancellations… and one race where overzealous cornering sent me into the undergrowth. So I was pretty keen to see how I’d fare in the Worcester Trophy Road Race this Sunday. This race takes place on a rolling, but fairly exposed circuit. The wind was high, and it was obvious that this would play a strong role in the proceeds of the race. My past experience of the circuit made me think that it would be hard for a breakaway to get established with the winds.

I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would respond to the rigours of racing, having had some time off racing, so I elected to stay tucked in the bunch out of the wind for as much of the start of the race as possible, hoping that a break wouldn’t slip away. The first few laps were frantic, very fast, and as suspected none of the initial breakaways would stick.

After about 2 of the 7 laps, I began to attack up some of the small inclines where I had a slight advantage over some of the more powerful riders. Unfortunately following every rise there would be a fast exposed section, and even if I had a gap I felt like I was getting blown out of the water pushing so hard in the wind. I couldn’t make it work, and to make matters worse a group of 12 riders had slipped off the front and gained over a minute advantage.

Chaos ensued in the pack, nobody was willing to work, the attacks carried on, and the break pulled their lead out. There was also some disruption involving a tractor splitting the peloton in two.

With three laps to go Brother NRG and Morvelo Basso (neither of whom had a man in the break) started to arrange a chase from the peloton. I helped out, thinking I had little to lose at this point, and we managed to bring the gap to the breakaway below the minute mark. However, on the last lap, with the break in sight, the chasing legs were tiring and it fell to pieces. I had nothing better to do than sit in and get ready for a manic uphill sprint for minor placings. I was pretty poorly positioned coming into the bottom of the hill, but managed to make up a fair few places and finished (maybe?) just within the top 20. A disappointing end to the race, but I’m hoping to come back stronger for the remaining races of the season.

Thanks to Worcester St Johns and the legend that is Adrian Bird for organising a great race!

Posted in Blogs

North Wales KOM Series – Round 3

Having suffered with a bad infection from a recent crash I decided to test my legs at the North Wales KOM series out of Ruthin..a decision I  soon regretted! Now my excuses are done I’ll get on with the write up.

I was excited to race. This was a ‘proper’ circuit that you didn’t have double figures of laps to do, I was hoping to take in the scenery…didn’t get much of a chance. There was a 5km neutral lead out from Ruthin and then the race started from the base of the first time up Nant-Y-Garth. The circuit was around 39km and involved climbing up Nant-Y-Garth and then a long descent back down towards Corwen and then a fast run down the A494 back to the foot of the main climb. On the 3rd time round the circuit you caried straight on after Nant-Y-Garth and up the infamous Horshoe Pass. A circuit for the climbers…of which I am not!

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Ruthin Circuit

We had 4 guys representing Team Chronomaster start the race (Ste, Craig, Kris and George), a few more had entered but unfortunately technical issues halted play for them. I turned up with Ste to a foggy, damp Ruthin. We were both wondering whether warming up the legs or staying in the car was the best decision, we obviously decided on the latter.

After a long neutral lead out we were at the foot of the first climb. A few riders fractured off from the gun, I decided that this wasn’t a race I was in contention for a decided to just give it a go up the climb to test my legs. I felt good, overtook one of the early guys to break away, looked behind me andsaw the whole peloton. Any chance of a early break was not happening for me. I slowly moved back in the bunch and regret leading the bunch up the climb at a high pace that I now had to try and maintain.

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Feeling a bit uncomfortable after the first ascent!

The first lap everyone seemed to be getting used to the roads and wet conditions. Everyone was riding well and communicating, I think I only heard one outburst in the whole race! (choppy riding!). On the descent back to Corwen was (where I believe) the winning move happened. A few riders were up the road and Louis Szymanski broke off from the main group and chased them down. Louis then attacked them and solo’d to victory! Very impressive riding!

Going up the climb a second time the pace was a bit more manageable. On the long descent a few breaks started to form. Being on a descent these never lasted long. With about 4 riders up the road I jumped on Richard Taylors wheel and we attempted to bridge, unfortunately Richard had a mechanical and there was no way I was bridging alone…back in the bunch I go.

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Ste enjoying the elements…

The last time down the A494 the pace eased off. A few teams had riders up the road and were doing their best to interfere. I knew I wasn’t going to make it up with the main bunch going full tilt on the last climb so I got to the front and tried to pick the pace up, hoping it’d help some of the other Team riders catch the riders ahead.

I lost the bunch on the kicker up into Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd as the mountain goats took off. I was with a small bunch of riders one of whom was Kris who I found had no rear mech from about 5 miles into the race. Impressive ride to get that far with only two gears!

I did the last climb at the best pace I could (about 100 watts less than the last two times!). Rolling across the line was enough for me at this point. I finished 45th, I didn’t crash so a win in that respect!

The story was very different for Craig and Ste who came in 7th and 22nd respectively………

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Thanks to VC Melyd for hosting an excellent series of races. Thanks also to Peter Nash for the images. More can be seen HERE!

Here is a great video from the series winner Ollie Blagden, footage of the finish 2 minutes in:

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Smithfield Road Race 16/07/2017

By Neil Wood

Another early start for me.  I woke up at 04:50 when my 19 year old daughter came home from a night out with her friends all back from uni.  My alarm was set for 05:00, so just decided to get up instead of lingering in bed for ten minutes. She looked at me in astonishment that I was up so early to compete in a bike race. These early starts are a regular occurrence of course, but she has no idea as she’s usually getting out of bed by the time I have finished the race.  This being new to her, she told me that I was “a bit daft”. I have to say, I actually agreed with her. She went to bed and I got my breakfast.

I collected John Myburgh on the way who recently moved to Buckshaw in a new build house on a newly built road. It’s so new, his postcode was not on Google Maps  and it took me to the wrong location. Coincidentally when Google  told me I was there, I  was outside another new build with an identical car to John’s in the driveway which caused some confusion. We had to resort to an old fashioned phone conversation, turn left here, right there etc.

Eventually after this faffing around we were on the M6 heading up towards Carlisle to race in the Rock To Roll Cycling Club road race at Smithfield.  We love the Rock to Roll races. They are always well organised, on great courses with stunning Cumbrian scenery.  They attract riders from around the North and the competition is pretty fierce, which makes great competitive racing. Of course the tea and cakes afterwards are the best yet. The skies brightened and the sun made an appearance and it looked set to be a perfect day for racing. We met our team mate John Bamford at the HQ as well as team mate Jon Fowles who was racing in the E/1/2 race. A few team tactics were discussed and the race was underway following a good length neurtalised zone.

As we made our way to the start line, I began thinking about this same race last year where I came 5th when I managed to get in a breakaway group on the last lap and gained about 30 seconds on the chasing bunch. It was a move that worked well for me. I decided that if I was to improve on last year, then I need to employ the same tactic again this year.  If so inclined, my report on this race can be read here…..

Greyhounds out of the traps is one way to describe the start of the race once the flag was dropped. A couple of teams took to the front with the intention of smashing the race to pieces. To a large extent this worked as riders began to be shelled out of the back early doors. At the end of the race my Garmin recorded an average speed just shy of 25 mph, so a pretty fast race. We kept ourselves near the front to do our usual thing of marking any attacks and where the opportunity presented itself, initiate our own attacks with the intention of getting away.

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John M and Neil teamwork. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

This happened towards the end of the second lap. I was making myself busy with a couple of others chasing down a 4 man breakaway group. They managed to get a short distance for a few miles, but we brought them back.  I happened to be at the front when they were eventually caught. It was then I saw two riders from Horwich CC take an opportunity to counter attack as we approached the 500 metre uphill drag to the start/finish line. They got about 20 metres and I was not going to do any more chasing at this point. I was hoping that John B or John M would see that I was at the front and not going to work, thus giving one of them a chance to jump across to the Horwich lads and get away. Intuitively,  John Bamford saw this, sprinted past me and caught them, his presence gave an additional impetus  as they sped away up the hill, whilst I still plodded along and made no effort to chase, with the entire peloton behind me. This worked for the best part of a lap, the three of them got out of sight, but were not forgotten and a concerted effort was made by the chasing bunch to eventually bring them back.

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John B on the attack with his two Horwich CC compatriots. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

Around half way through the race we saw Jon Fowles by the side of the road watching our race go past, we were not sure what happened to him, but afterwards he told us, in his words “Was doing a corner attack….but the ground attacked me instead” Jon has had a phenomenal season so far with a top 10 in every race he has entered including coming second to pro rider James Gullen of JLT Condor in the Elite race at Cockermouth.  He’s fine and so is his bike, some torn clothing but most of all, this little mistake has proved to us that he is actually human after all and we like him all the more for it!

I made several efforts to try to force a break by putting in some big attacks with a couple of other riders. We soon got caught though due to a lack of cooperation in sharing the work. When chasers caught us, they wouldn’t work either, they were happy to just chase us down.

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Neil on the attack. Picture courtesy of Robin Clark

This went on for the rest of the race, but nobody got away. The last lap was a bit frantic, there was a big crash that myself and John M avoided, but John B got caught behind it, fortunately he stayed upright, but did have to stop as at least 6 to 8 riders were down in front of him.  This affected his position in the bunch so had to chase hard to get back on. On the final lap, we entered the final stretch of road which carries on for about 3 or 4 miles before the left turning to the uphill finish line. The two previously mentioned Horwich riders took to the front and one of them was giving his team mate the lead out of his life. At least 3 miles of rolling road with a decent tail wind and pace was set at around 29 mph. Fortunately for me, I was fourth wheel taking advantage of the lead out and John M was on my wheel. We were in a great position, especially since the bunch got completely strung out single file due to the pace set by the Horwich rider. A few attempts were made by riders behind us to better their positions by coming out of position and riding up the line, but they couldn’t do it as the pace was too intense for them, and they fell back to their positions.

Entering the 500 metre uphill drag I got to third wheel and just started chasing the wheel in front of me, I could see he was strong so stuck with him with John M chasing my wheel. I was doing well, a cursory look behind and we had some distance on the main bunch, just a few scattered riders chasing us up the hill. Around 20 metres to go just when I thought I may be able to win this, the two riders in front sped up to try to take the win. I began to lose the wheel in front of me! I made a big mistake here, I decided to get out of the saddle to keep on the wheel and immediately cramped up in both legs, this cost me about a second or two and promptly slammed back into my saddle. This lost couple of seconds allowed two of the chasers to pip me on the line by a wheel and half a wheel’s length. I rolled over for 5th place and John Myburgh got 7th. John Bamford came home in the bunch as he was never able to recover his position after being caught behind the crash.

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Front bunch on uphill drag sprinting for the line. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

I was a bit annoyed with myself for trying to sprint out of the saddle, but still pretty happy with 5th place – the same as last year, but this time in a bunch sprint rather than being in a breakaway group. In the process of getting 5th, I accidentally got my second category promotion. I have always maintained that I would rather be a decent 3rd cat who can compete well, such as in a race like today’s rather than be a struggling 2nd cat. But there you go. It means that I am just going to have to train like a demon over the winter if I want to succeed next year. With our winter training programme and team mates around me offering endless encouragement and support, it’s a certainty that I will be working hard and living up to expectations.  So no alternative. Rather than this year be a decent 3rd cat, I am going just have to be a decent 2nd cat.

Many thanks to Robin Clark at Rock 2 Roll Cycles for another fantastic race

Many thanks to Ellen Isherwood for her continued presence taking great pictures

Thanks to sponsors LeisureLakesBikes  Specialized Bicycles  Chronomaster  OTE

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Posted in Blogs